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  • #7
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    I was a restaurant owner and I donated as much food as I could give away. I hated waste, but it's about being able to make educated guesses on how much to prepare. When I finally closed my last restaurant, I donated so much food, about $10,000 worth to local churches and needy families.
  • #57
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    Don't let the government know that you donate food, or if you do so without a permit, depending where you are, you could get fined, or go to jail .
  • #3
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    A big part of the problem in "donating" prepared food is the liability aspect. A friend of mine operated a large cafeteria style restaurant and at the end of each day had to throw out enough food to feed several hundred people. His corporate management did not want to assume the liability of donating the food and being sued if someone got sick.
  • #14
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    I blame lawyers who are quick to file lawsuits in the RARE occasions when some homeless person claimed he became sick after being given free food. A lot of kind-hearted business people used to donate left over food, or even have special 'cook-outs' giving free food to poor and homeless people, like Say McIntosh, Little Rock, AR, and one in Denver, and one in Albuquerque I haven't been able to find thru Google, used to do. And later had their kindness repaid by some money-hungry land-shark.
  • #35
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    That's what keeps restaurants in the French Quarter in New Orleans from giving out food to the many homeless in the city, it's a damn shame too; left overs from Antoine's or Commanders Palace would probably motivate me to get a job so I could afford more meals as delicious as them if I were to be homeless.
  • #11
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    I often question the left over donuts at the bakery, the sandwiches at the local bodega, left over food at the local restaurants.
    The guy at the 7-Eleven where I get my smokes gives out day old pastries and sandwiches to his regulars.
    Giving it to the homeless seems like a great idea on the surface. But there needs to be a distribution network. No business owner wants a line of homeless folks lined up at his front door waiting for leftovers. And then, there IS the health risk of expired food. Or left overs left unrefrigerated for too long.
    Kudos to one donut shop I know of that takes its day old treats to the mission regularly.
  • #10
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    Do we need more regulations? Or do the existing ones need to be revised? I think the latter. Also, I do know that the waste of food in restaurants is astronomical. The easiest thing would be for restaurants to finally get the message that we do not need the portion size they offer. My favorite places to eat now are those that offer 2 portion sizes. People are just not into the 12 oz. steak for one person, the mound of potatoes and such. I like it when I can order the petite portion and just vegetables - I can eat that much without feeling like I need a crane to get me out of my seat. That would go a long way toward less waste. We could also fix the sell by date to the real date. Sell by date leaves almost a week, or more depending on the product, of safe use. Also, many supermarkets and restaurants used to provide day old bread and other perfectly good items for free to shelters, do they not do that now?
  • #1
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    What will the government do make me give my "left overs" to someone else now? Who's going to play "left overs police"??? Are we going to have a new bureaucracy department called the Department of Left Overs?
  • #5
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    Loosening the rules for left over food just allows companies to donate the left overs to the needy. No one is forcing anyone to do anything. There may even be a tax break for doing it. Or at least I should hope so if the government expects businesses to grow a heart without an incentive.
  • #22
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    @Ryunkin if you read the "this guy" link you'll see most of the food bank and "recycle" type stores are set up as non profits in order for the donors can get the tax deductions.
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  • #52
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    Repubs are just as charitable as everyone!; true giving isn't a political issue.
    Sometimes the people you think are the most assholish folks, the kind of people you would swear are the most selfish, greedy jerks, actually give more than you or me or a whole lot of us put together, behind the scenes, where it REALLY counts, and where the need is the greatest. Those folks purposely don't advertise or glorify their giving, because it comes from the heart, and not from any business, personal, or political aspirations. The true chracter of a person is exemplified in how they act when no one is looking.

    True, unconditional charity is as American as apple pie, and it isn't a political issue, unless you are a partisan fool intent on trying to make the other side look bad. In that case, it is your motives, not the person's you are mischaracterizing, that are suspect and disingenious.(sic)
  • #16
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    The use by dates are extremely conservative. I do not believe many of them are close to reasonable let alone necessary. An overabundance of caution is what is responsible for a lot of the waste. In our home we waste virtually no food. The only stuff that goes into the trash is the table scraps and an occasional piece of spoiled fruit.
  • #23
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    I'm trying to be a glass half full kind of person today. Let's turn a new leaf and try to focus on the positive aspects of the stories posted today.
    For instance, just think how fat americans would be if they ate that 33%! OMG, we dodged a bullet on that. We're getting chubby enough already. Maybe if we started wasting 50% we could see some wastelines shrink. WE CAN DO IT!!
  • #2
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    Maybe we should support more companies like Panera, who donate all their leftover bread at the end of the day to food banks and homeless shelters. And by support I mean increase our patronage, not give them subsidies.
  • #6
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    I was surprised at how many resturants and grocery stores already do this. We have two local grocery chains that do this. One runs it's own free store.
  • #9
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    @Thunderchicken That's awesome. We should find a way to relax regulations on such things to encourage more businesses to do that.
  • #20
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    @TheSaltMiner

    When I was doing environmental stuff for my company I ran into so much bureaucratic bozoness that I was happy when someone else wanted the job. I expect that food recycling is just as bad.
  • #24
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    @Thunderchicken No doubt. I am unfortunate enough to be a contractor on a military installation, and the bureaucratic waste is painful and excessive even for the most mundane and insignificant of tasks. I can only imagine how bad it must be when environmental or health safety concerns are at issue.
  • #55
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    @Thunderchicken
    Funny you should mention that type of ugly bureaucratic mess.....I got the wonderful task for my company to discuss some new Enviro laws here in California that are being planned.(planned and pending CA regulations) We will be required to test the soil and groundwater on our business sites, at all locations and at every building. The State is considering codifying laws for all business property owners, that require we must do annual toxin groundwater/soil samples and report the findings to the State to try and control " heavy metal toxins in rain runoff". This means Lead, Mercury, Benzene, etc. The horrible part of this proposed regulation is this part: if you discover toxins are contained in either the soil or the water on your business property, YOU are responsible for all cleanup costs (they say they will be limited, supposedly to a "yet-to-be-determined " $$ amount) Here's the rub: EVEN IF YOU KNOW AND CAN PROVE THE TOXINS CAME FROM A PRIOR LANDOWNER OR USER. YOU are legally responsible for ALL cleanup and mitigation costs. Yes, you read that right.........if the property you have was once owned by the Navy, for instance, and they dumped lead or some other ugly waste chemicals or metals onto the grounds, even many years ago.......well, you get the picture. Current property owners are going to be held responsible for cleanup of all toxins and/or pollutants found to be deposited on the property, even if you can prove the pollutants were deposited or accumulated there as long as two hundred (200) years ago. This legislation was written up and then shelved in 2013, after I participated in our local Metal Business/Metal Industry discussion panels. We gathered and discussed the possible new laws ala Round-Table discussion with local Politicos, and you could have lit a cigar with the "heated" opinions coming from all of the local owners and reps from the Metal Shops and Machine Shops that will likely have toxic materials found on their sites. Although the new laws are temporarily stalled, we all know that it will, come, eventually, here in CA. This will NOT be fun, and it will bring unrecoverable costs to our industry that no one can afford. Of course, the Satae of CA says they will help deray "unreasonable" cleanup and monitoring costs........but we all know how those promises from any State usually turn out. Talk about a gold mine for lawyers!
  • #56
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    And guess what? we are FINED and have to buy permits to feed the homeless~ If you go "dumpster diving for food" it's practically illegal as companies are trying their hardest to find otehr means of disposing their food.
  • #48
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    The 'use by' date doesn't mean the food isn't edible after that date, it only means that it won't be at its peak flavor adter that date. We have a discount grocery store nearbymthat sells expired or soon to be expired food. I'm still eating Yoplait yogurt that 'expired' on Jan. 25th...and it tastes just fine.

    As for milk...the smell test always works. Besides, if you want to make a good Devil's Food cake, you use sour milk anyway!

    The only things lose it after the sell by dates are baked goods. They turn to cement. You can also freeze them to stop the process if you want.
  • #47
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    I used to buy all the animal food for a zoo. We got a lot of donations from local groceries and bakeries whose owners were too afraid of lawsuits and regulations to give it to people, and it was all perfectly good food (of course we had to "test" it before feeding it out). There is plenty of good food out there that people are willing to donate if government would just loosen up.
  • #42
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    It is rediculous to throw out all that food but with the current climate of sue everyone for everything food establishments can not afford to give the food to those that need it.
    Case in point would be McDonlads. If at the end of a shift they have 30 hamburgers cooked and on hand they must throw them in the trash because they are not allowed to donate them. I tried to get them to donate their leftover burgers to a meals on wheels group that fed the elderly and infirmed that ould not afford to do it themselves and was told that they could not due to the law and the danger of being sued.
  • #37
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    I believe there should be a new law that states " Eat at your won risk" This waives the right for someone to sue another based solely on free food they receive. But this begs a bigger question from me: IN assuming its the poor and starving who need food, if they get sick are these same people keeping a Rolodex of personal-injury lawyers?
  • #36
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    Every day I see uneaten food, whole loaves of bread, discarded greens, partly eaten packages of pastries and unopened boxes of noodles or cereals near the give-away centers and on the sidewalks . It's so irrtitating that I have stopped contributing to any sort of give-away program .
  • #32
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    If you haven't seen "Dive!" the documentary, I highly recommend it. It follows a group of "dumpster divers" who salvage perfectly good food from the garbage bins of grocery chains. The police even chase them off on a few occasions. In many places, this is becoming illegal.

    http://divethefilm.com/
  • #31
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    There's already a new budding industry to sell unused food from grocery stores that's past the "sell by" date, for dirt cheap too. Sell by is not the same as use by dates. It's not that serious.
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